2020

I spend between January first and the Lunar New Year dreaming about my intentions for the coming year. Along with that, I rethink my “principals of life”. The principals usually explore the spiritual theme – when we Love ourselves first, we encounter the world from Love.

Current manifesto…

We are each an individual expression of the furnace of creation. Each with a different consciousness of our existence. We decide our story. How we think and feel about everything we encounter. We are only bound by our imagination.

Our attention is the thread of our power. When we start from Love unbound by culture and what others think our story is beautiful, with no shadow, no opposition.

In our desire to belong, belong to those who bring us Joy and when we sing together from Love our power will be amplified.

2020 Intentions

Be an ambassador of Good Will.

Be Present …….. Show up to Now

Pay attention to thoughts and actions……… Think well of others

Start from Love ……… Speak, Think, Act, from LOVE

Release from Love ………. Always

(These are closely related to the 4 fold way: Show Up – Pay Attention – Speak Your Truth – Release Attachment to Outcome)

Happy Lunar New year! Year of the Metal Rat.

2020

Dissonance

Ack, 5 days into the new year and I’ve concluded my first intention for the coming year isn’t realistic. Initially it was to “Not have ill will towards any person, to always start from Love.”

I’m noticing however, that while I can stop myself from having ill will, within the first few seconds I go to a place of fear-based judgment. For example, it usually starts with “if only they…” …had a better diet, stayed out of others business, weren’t so hateful towards, wore pants that looked better, weren’t blindly tied to … So many of my initial responses are culturally based.

I have worked a lot on my spiritual and moral development and too often find myself fighting with human nature, in this case accepting it is human nature to judge. Everything is a judgment, (the sky is blue, the kitty is soft…). Rather than beat myself up about it, I’m changing my intention to “Pay attention to thoughts and actions.” Especially the motivation, are they from Love or Fear.  

Any ideas for staying present with our thoughts are welcome.
flora@floraGo.net

Dissonance

Blessings

Gratitude is the greatest gift of well-being.
When I’m spontaneously Grateful, everything in my existence is joyous.

Having experienced the tangled grips of depression I often think about consciousness. Consciousness too is tangled. Much of our happiness is tied to our perception of how things are. Culture is often the instigator of negative first impressions, and feeds on itself becoming a sticky vicious cycle.

Changing our perceptions can bring us closer to well-being, believing we tell ourselves the story of who we are, culture and where we fit in.

Well-being* = Beliefs + Genes + Environment + Life Stage + Chemistry

Tomorrow is the solstice. As we return to the sun, create a new story, fill it with light, and notice how sticky Love is.

OXO

*Well-being loosely defined

  • Beliefs- how we view ourselves and humanity, our contribution and personal practices as well as our mental constructs. Our innate need to belong has us subscribe to belief systems that mold our thinking. Lest we forget, we make up culture and what we choose to be certain of.
  • Genes and DNA- the kit we are born with, our building blocks for physical and biological potential.
  • Environment- including the way we were raised, diet/supplements/chemicals, technology, education, exercise, clothing, work, culture, community…
  • Life stage- at different phases of our lives we want and are capable of different things. Sometimes we want to ride the dragons…be the dragons…slay all the dragons…watch dragons being slayed…or don’t give a shit about dragons.
  • Chemistry- everything we do relies on neurons communicating with one another in the brain by sending chemical or electrical messages. If there is a miscommunication, we may feel or be one putt away from the abyss. 
Blessings

Dear Friends-

We have a problem. Social media can be as wicked as wildfire. Our need to stay connected has us sharing memes and media that either promotes negativity toward other humans or confirms our biases. We do this without investigation or thinking about the causal effects.

Recently a viral video showed of a group of *teenagers at a rally in what appeared to be a stand off with a Native American man who was drumming. From one angle the teenagers appeared to be assholes. I was ready to get in line with the finger wagging. Although as I investigated, I quickly found the video didn’t show the complexity of the situation. Then I realized, regardless of the particular behavior of the participants, these are children, and we are putting hate on kids… Why wasn’t this my first thought?

We are so hungry to blame, we don’t care who we’re putting in harm’s way. We are losing ourselves, our dignity, by becoming divided hive minds.
Our biases thrive on adding adjectives to:
People who wear MAGA hats are…
Native Americans are…
Black Hebrew Israelites are…

Please, please, please, think before you share, and share from Love, with media that contributes positively to society, whether it be Art, solving problems, or spreading Love.

I Love you. Don’t be an asshole, I Love you.
-flora

*There was so much hatred spewed at the kids they’ve received death threats.
Unthinking behavior leads to children in cages.

Dear Friends-

Fes

The Medina

Our trip to Morocco was a mixture of wonder, beauty, and naivety with cultural schooling. We enjoyed our traveling companions Deb and Frank; experiences are always best when shared with people you love.

The trip started out rather rough. Tom almost didn’t make the trip. 6 days prior he had gotten food poisoning and was sicker than I’d ever seen him. The day before our trip he went to the hospital and got pumped with fluids and antibiotics. He still couldn’t eat much and was weak, but was determined to make the trip.

Our first stop was Tangier, an hour and a half flight from Lisbon. We arrived at the El Minzah hotel just after midnight. It was a beautiful elegant hotel of the old Hollywood days. A bit worn, but her glory still shone.

The next morning after breakfast we ventured to the medina and its narrow streets. We didn’t get very far before a variety of unofficial guides tried to help us find our way. We had been warned that there were men would try and help you for a fee. All we had to do was stop, look at a map, or just look up and there would be someone to “help”. Once they locked onto us we had a really hard time shaking them. “No Thank You” 20 x went right past them. We’d think we’d finally break away only to find them around the next corner waiting for us. It made it difficult to enjoy the surroundings. After this we decided a guide from the hotel would be best, as just their presence created the needed barrier.

Ramadan was happening which brought an exclamation point to the Muslim culture, fasting during the daylight, no food, water, smoking, or sex. Restaurants were often closed in the day and so we needed to plan accordingly. We felt a bit guilty pulling out our water bottles in the 90-degree heat, but not enough to stop us from doing it.

Tangier is like many cities with a little less than a million people… bustling, traffic and hustling. We didn’t really see that much of the city as we only had 1 day before heading to Fes & much of it felt like navigating our way out of being “helped”.

We took the train from Tangier to Fes, the trip was a little over 5 hours in comfortable seats and through countryside similar in many ways to eastern WA. Rolling hills of wheat, dessert and olive groves. On the train, a lovely man tried to scam us into switching hotels (a 5 hour story best told over cocktails). In Fes we were greeted by 2 drivers, one from the scammer and one from the hotel/riad. We negotiated our way out of the scam and into the van for the riad. By this time my spidey sense was on full alert and I was ready to draw my sword at any moment.

The riad is located within the walls of Fes El Bali, one of the worlds’ oldest still operational walled cities. Its streets are pedestrian only, too narrow for vehicles. We were met at one of the gates by Abdou from the riad along with a man and his hand cart. They put all the luggage into the cart and off it went. I leapt into action following the cart directly. There was no way I was going to let it out of my sight.

As soon as we went through the gate into the medina it was like “POW” we were in a time warp and different dimension. It was like walking into a land of a thousand fairytales in a maze of tiny streets. The streets were lined with little shops, each with a story. The first one I noticed was a cobbler working on a leather piece, his space was about 10’ square. He sat prominent in the window framed like a painting by shoes, materials and tools that lined the walls and piled the counters. The streets range from 3-8 feet wide. Trying to keep up with the cart I rushed passed a stream of people, donkeys, and carts all flowing peacefully through the streets. The sights, sounds and intimacy of the medina were intoxicating. We turned left and right too many times to recount until reaching the Riad Kettani.

We walked through the doors into an oasis that would be ours for the next 6 days. We landed in a courtyard with a fountain and seating. Tile and plaster carved walls with balconies led up to a glass covered ceiling 3 stories up.

We were greeted lovingly by Latifa who brought us warm wet towels to wash away any unpleasantness and hot Moroccan tea to replenish. We rested in the courtyard before being shown our rooms. The rooms were very spacious with tall ceilings. Beautiful tile and woodwork lined the surfaces. The space truly felt welcoming, like a second home. Soon after arrival we heard the call to prayer. All the business with scams that had me fragile seemed just like foolishness now. Just a way of doing business I was not accustomed to.

KhalibOur riad arranged a guide, Khalib, to take us on various excursions. We started with the old Medina where 156, 000 people live in the compact maze. The medina is full of craftsmen: weavers, leather goods, wood carvers, metal workers, potters, tile workers…. Khalib explained while tourism is very important to their economy, the medina was for the local people. Most business in the medina was done by men. The men wore a combination of western clothes and djellabas (robes). The women, mostly consumers, wore djellabas and head scarfs. There were also lots of what seemed to be homeless cats, many were kittens. Deb saved table scraps and would feed them; the locals would smile at her approvingly.

Always with the call to prayer there would be scurrying of people going to their places of worship. The were 50 mosques within the walls. While we weren’t invited into the mosques, the doors were always open and the street being very narrow provided a good view.

Khalib lead us through sections of the medina at a steady pace: craft, practical goods, food, meat market and the tannery. We briefly touched on the larger city of Fes, the second largest city in Morocco with 1.1 million people.

Our first trip out of Fes the next day brought us to Volubilis, an ancient Roman and Berber city in operation from the 3rd century BC to the 11th century AD. Beautiful stone ruins met with the dirt and sky in a hot and mostly arid climate. Then on to Meknes a medium sized city, now known for the place I got food poisoning, as I can’t remember anything particularly interesting about it.

I missed going to the Atlas mountains the next day as I purged. The best thing about the illness was I had no pain, just a fever and evacuation. I was however in a fasting dreamlike state for the rest of the trip with an elevated temp each evening. I didn’t really mind, I loved Fes, a lovely place to convalesce.

Fes is very special. The tiny streets full of life, holding on to a culture centuries old. There something grounding about being so close to so many people who devout to their culture and religion with the call to prayer 5x a day. It brings a continual reminder of the present moment, our purpose and intent.

I would have loved to spend more time just hanging around the medina observing, as everything we did was at a pace that kept us moving through spaces. To sit quietly and listen would have brought a deeper meaning to this magical place.

The only word I can remember in Arabic is “shukraan” which means thank you.  Shukraan Fes, I look forward to returning one day.

DSC04835aMore photos here… 

Fes

everyday racism

I struggle with racism. I am embarrassed by my past and what I carry forward. I’d like to say I’m not a racist, but having grown up in a racist society, who am I kidding?

I consciously fight racism and try to greet each person or situation with a positive intent, yet there are fleeting thoughts from years of racist programming. Whether it’s memories from a TV comedy skit where the black man answers “yessa massa” to the white man; or of living in New York and having friends’ parents say “lock your doors” as we drove through black neighborhoods; or another parent saying put your hands over your necklaces as we walked the streets; or another telling me I looked like a nigger woman from the fields when I wore a bandanna.

My parents were never overtly racist although it was all around us. Growing up, we lived in a white neighborhood on Long Island and had no black friends. There was one black kid in my middle school and just a hand full in high school. My exposure to people of other races was limited and fear and racism were subtly and not so subtly imposed. We were told the Hispanic families that lived in the next town over were dirty “spics”. I would look at people of color and try to imagine what their lives were like. I was curious, though recognized my people are different than your people.

My father had an employee who was a Chinese immigrant, a widow and single parent. She and her son would join us on holidays and other events; they would always bring exotic foods. We loved them. But again they were different, they looked different, smelled different, cooked different. I wasn’t taught different was bad, but there were subtle social queues that implied different didn’t belong in the same way that our white friends did.

Of course, as I became more independent and explored the world, I could see the limited perspective I had grown up in. If not conscious, we can become victims of our cultures and limit our opportunities for love. And while I now intentionally fight racism, my childhood memories still linger, and I am ashamed of them. I know I am not alone in this.

There is a meme “Never be defined by your past. It was just a lesson, not a life sentence.”  Yeah, I’m trying.

everyday racism

Everyday Sexism: “Pretty”

Every culture has odd beliefs that have evolved for different reasons. One of ours is the concept that a woman’s worth is tied heavily to her looks. We have billion dollar industries perpetuating this notion. Think about it, women paint their faces because they’re taught that their natural beauty isn’t enough. That she needs to attract a man by looking pretty. Where is the love in this action? Alicia Keys is being highlighted because she’s given up make up. This is news, this is what Americans care about, this is sad. (although good on Alicia Keys)

Question culture, question authority, question our motives.

Everyday Sexism: “Pretty”

everyday

In the wake of our president elect. I keep thinking about how we got here. How America decided that a rude sexist, racist, xenophobic, bigot was the best choice for us. Beyond the issues with the electoral college and the democrats forgetting about the rural working class, we as a country have allowed for bad behavior to gestate and Trump is the manifestation. It didn’t happen overnight, it’s been a very long slow boil. Due in part because its’ profitable. Society makes money on fear, ego and laziness…

It takes diligence and discipline to stay morally correct, especially when so much of our culture is counter to it. Our natural tendency is to belong, and with that we often give up our social agency. It starts as little things, like commenting on what a person is wearing (especially a woman), or  laughing at a movie that’s making fun of a fat person, disability, racial slur, punch in the face or murder. Because we are easily bored the media pushes our boundaries for profit. We pay to be surprised, shocked and scared.

So, what to do? Try not to buy into for profit schemes that don’t come from Love. This is tough, it means changing habits (but I gotta watch America’s Next Top Model…). We can at least try, and if we fail do so with eyes open. And when we see inappropriate conduct, recommend everyone be cool and rethink their actions. No vigilantes please. This gives us all a chance to check ourselves. Our society allowed for bad behavior to evolve. It won’t change overnight especially if it is met with hostility. People can be idiots, remind them there are other options. Changing culture starts with awareness.

I’m going to start posting some of the “everyday” unfortunate cultural norms I’ve seen and been part of. I encourage you to do the same. Looking at sexism, racism, xenophobia, bigotry and more. I’m starting with sexism because we are taught first to be sexist.

 

everyday

affirmations.

Anything of value requires continual attention and care.

Start a movement.... Photo credit: Ruby Sparks
Start a movement.

The day after the election I couldn’t get off the couch. I was devastated by the desperation for change that half my countrymen have, and the resulting election. The day after that I blamed those of us in our self-entitled liberal bubbles; for not knowing and caring for our rural neighbors.

Of late, I realize it’s a complicated mess and finger wagging is meeting this catastrophe with the same energy that created it. I’m ready to move forward. Starting with affirming what I value, my vision of the world I want to live in, and where I can effect change.

This is a working draft of my vision and living principles…

 
Vision: A joyous and compassionate world. To benefit society through conscious actions in support of social accountability.

*Daily Affirmations: With the awareness that I can only control myself; how I receive the world and what I give, I endeavor to always start from love and to:

  • Love myself first so I can greet the world from a place of love.
  • Show up; be present to the moment and circumstance.
  • Pay attention; listen, see, and feel without judgement. See where there is love.
  • Speak my truth; praise what is right, guide what is not. It is not my job to scold, smite, or bear false witness. (This is hard for my ego) (I am usually right) (See, I can’t yet let it go)
  • Humor is important to the process of letting go.
  • Seek the power of the conscsious collective; together we are unstoppable.
  • Don’t attach to outcome; as I can only control myself.

From here I will find solutions to unite my fellow countrymen, end divides, to be kind and compassionate. I look forward with curiosity to the new friends I will make.

oxo flora

*I borrowed heavily from the wisdom of the Fourfold Way by Angelis Arrien

affirmations.